How Cattle and Cowboys Beat the Heat

Let’s face it–this summer has been hot. Like hotter than a firecracker lit on both ends. It’s so hot, I saw two trees fighting over a dog. It’s so hot, the birds are using oven mitts to pick up the worms. And I wonder, where is all this stinkin’ hot air coming from?

Picture of Trump and Hillary

Nevermind, I found the source.

Since this weather affects both man and beast, cattle farmers and ranchers take extra care to keep their cattle cool. While not every technique works well for every area of the country, using some of them in combination helps a great deal with getting the cattle through the really hot spells.

One common method is to put out sprinklers with cool water. It is the same premise as the sprinkler you put in the front yard as a kid to jump through–if you stay wet you stay cooler. Rather than using the garden sprinkler and hoping the cattle jump through it, farmers put large sprinklers on top of poles that spread the water over a larger area. Care is taken to make sure the ground doesn’t get too muddy, which would make a sloppy, humid mess that is worse for the cattle.

Shade is another option, although if done wrong could make things worse for the cattle. You see, if cattle are put into a barn or another closed sided building, their body heat builds up and makes it warmer in the building than outside in the sun. So all cattle shades need to just cover the top and have open sides. They are placed running from north to south, rather than east to west. This means as the position of the sun changes in relation to the shade, the shadow cast moves across a large area. This is done to prevent the cattle from standing in one place all day, making another muddy mess.

A good breeze helps a lot in the summer heat. Although beef cattle farmers don’t have giant fans to make a breeze (although that would be pretty rad), they can build mounds for the cattle to stand on. Cattle on top of these mounds can catch the wind better.

Fan for cow

It doesn’t work quite like this for cattle on pasture or in the feedyard.

Last, but actually most important, farmers make sure cattle have access to ample fresh, clean water. In the summer, farmers will take time to scrub water troughs multiple times a week, or even once per day, to make sure the water is as clean and cool as possible. The importance of clean water in hot weather cannot be overstated.

So even if it’s so hot chickens are laying hard-boiled eggs, farmers and ranchers have ways of keeping their cattle cool through the heat. But me, I’m just sweating through this, waiting for fall.